You’ve served and earned your VA disability compensation and deserve to keep every penny. But in some cases, the law allows another person to be paid a portion of your benefits. This is called VA apportionment. Keep reading to learn more about the VA apportionment process, who is eligible to receive apportionment on your behalf, and why.
What is VA apportionment?
In short, apportionment is when another person is paid a portion of your VA disability compensation. The VA will take a percentage of your monthly payments and send a part of your check directly to the other party. You’ll still receive a portion of your pay, but your pay will be reduced by the amount sent to the other party.
VA apportionment usually comes from a disagreement between a veteran and another party, such as an estranged spouse, about how disability compensation should be divided. In some cases, the VA will decide that apportionment is in the best interest of you and your family.
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Who is eligible for VA apportionment?
If you’re one of the following eligible individuals, you can apply for VA apportionment:
- An estranged spouse
- Children living with an estranged or divorced spouse
- Children who aren’t living with you and are unable to provide for themselves financially
- Dependent parents
What are some examples of scenarios for VA apportionment?
There are a few different circumstances where apportionment is used. Unfortunately, many of these scenarios are negative. However, there are a few positive examples of when apportionment can be used to benefit a veteran and their family.
Examples of when VA apportionment is typically granted include:
- You’re legally responsible for someone but aren’t supporting them financially
- You’re not staying current with alimony or child support
- You’re not capable of caring for yourself (in the hospital or incompetent), you don’t have a fiduciary, and your benefits are apportioned to a spouse, children, or dependent parents
- You pass away, and your survivor benefits are given to your children who aren’t living with a spouse receiving Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
- You’re incarcerated and still want your spouse to receive full monthly support instead of only 10% of your disability payment
Note that VA disability compensation isn’t considered marital property, which means that your ex-spouse isn’t federally entitled to any of your VA benefits in a divorce. However, some states consider VA benefits when looking at child support and alimony. Knowing the rules in your state is crucial to understanding how your situation impacts apportionment.
At the end of the day, the VA doesn’t want to take away a veteran’s livelihood. This means that when someone files for VA apportionment, the VA looks at the situation surrounding the veteran.
The VA uses the term “reasonable and necessary” to decide on if a veteran’s VA disability pay should be apportioned or not. If the VA determines that the veteran needs the money to survive, it’s unlikely that the apportionment will be approved.
Other scenarios that make applicants ineligible for apportionment include:
- A (remarried) ex-spouse who is applying for benefits
- An estranged spouse living with someone else openly where the veteran is no longer financially supporting the spouse
- A dependent child adopted by someone else
- A dependent child serving in the military
How to File for VA Apportionment
You must file for apportionment VA benefits if you’re looking to receive VA apportionment for a veteran’s disability compensation. The VA will not automatically grant you apportionment.
To file for VA apportionment, you’ll need to complete the VA apportionment form: VA Form 21-0788. This form includes financial information, including monthly income, net worth, and monthly living expenses for the veteran and the person claiming apportionment. Gathering this information now will help you complete this form.
What happens after filing for VA apportionment?
When filing for VA apportionment, the process used to decide on your claim is very similar to filing for a traditional VA claim.
The VA will process the claim and usually request more evidence. Usually, the VA will request that the veteran and applicant submit financial statements to help make a decision. The VA wants to understand the finances of both parties to determine that apportioning a veteran’s disability check is necessary.
When the VA comes to a decision, the request for apportionment will either be denied or granted. If granted, the VA will also decide how much of the monthly pay is apportioned.
After the decision comes back, the applicant and veteran can both appeal the decision if they disagree.
If apportionment is granted, veterans can also file for a hardship reduction with the VA if the financial commitment is causing undue hardship. The VA will review the case and decide if the apportionment should be reduced or stopped altogether.
How much will disability pay be apportioned?
Typically, the VA will apportion between 20% to 50% of a veteran’s disability pay when the applicant for the apportionment is applying due to financial hardship. Keep in mind that these decisions are not made lightly, and the VA typically takes up to a year to make a decision.
Applying for VA apportionment can be complicated, so it’s essential to understand all the rules and requirements before applying. If you have VA apportionment questions, you can learn more by reading the VA’s claims manual on apportionment.
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Trisha Penrod is a former active-duty Air Force officer. As an Intelligence Officer, she led teams of analysts to apply advanced analytic skills to identify, assess, and report potential threats to U.S. forces.
Trisha attended the U.S. Air Force Academy and holds an MBA from Webster University. After receiving an honorable discharge in 2018, Trisha worked as a growth marketer and utilizes her analytic skills to help others accomplish their business goals.